The National Day of Prayer this week reminds us to pray for America. The scripture exhorts us to “pray for all those in authority over us,” not just the ones for whom we voted (1 Timothy 2: 1-2) Every believer has a God-ordained responsibility to pray for our political leaders. In our state, we pray for our former governor as he reorders his life, and we pray for our current governor as she navigates a new path.
This year is the 227th anniversary of the U.S. Constitution. It became the law of the land in 1790 when the final state, Rhode Island, voted approval. Our president makes one pledge to the people of the nation: to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution. Impeachment is effected when the president falls short of this Constitutional-mandated duty.
I learned recently that one U.S. president was buried with the Constitution! President Andrew Johnson asked that a copy of the document pillow his head as he lay in his coffin. Whereas this might be seen as a way to honor the document, historians believe he did this as a final thumb in the eye of Congressional Republicans who bedeviled his unhappy time in office!
It occurred to me that just as one singular document serves as the guide stone for the nation, one single document serves as the guide stone for the church. The reformers’ motto was “sola scriptura,” or “scripture alone.” No document, book or opinion takes superior position to the Bible in the Christian church.
In his second letter to Timothy, the Apostle Paul told the young man that the “sacred writings” had shown him the way to salvation, and would continue to guide him in doctrine.
It’s certainly true that not all churches agree on doctrinal issues. Baptism is a case-in-point.
Last year the student pastor at Alabaster’s First Methodist Church phoned to ask about using our baptistery. He said some young people had professed faith and wished to be immersed. Of course we agreed, and I then had a little fun with him. “You can bring the whole church over to be baptized,” I said!
Our Methodist friends reciprocated recently when they loaned us their kneeler that we used in ordaining a Baptist deacon.
Whereas, Christian churches may not agree on every issue, we do agree on the major doctrines in scripture. When scripture is clear, there is no doubt. There is no confusion over lifestyles to avoid: we must not lie, cheat or hurt others. And there’s no confusion over lifestyles to emulate: we are to fill our lives with love, kindness and forgiveness.
The scripture points the way for all things God wishes us to be and to do.